In my experience, there are currently three trains of thought in the market today when discussing to what extent a business is social.
- We don’t need it. Our brand speaks for itself and our buyers don’t use social anyway.
- We are already social and are being social. Marketing is leading all of this for us.
- We get it, we want to understand more about what we should be doing. Can you help us?
For businesses 1 and 2, if their brand is big enough, they will rumble on for the next 10 years and they will slowly change their way of thinking. It is more than likely there will be some renegade pockets in the business who will eventually lead a social evolution. For the small brands, they will lose market share over the same period and wonder what happened.
It’s also likely that they will see their digital natives – across all ages – leave and join those more socially aware organisations who recognise that navel gazing in meetings and patting each other on the back about how wonderful things are is the way of the past, not the future.
So, what makes a social centric business? I have lead two social transformation programmes across the legal sector and commercial real estate sector in the last seven years or so. It was too early to market internally for both, but I learnt a hell of a lot. I have been through every iteration of Sales Navigator, LinkedIn’s premium lead generation tool.
This is fundamental. If your leadership does not believe, buy in and support this strategy and innovative approach, you may as well pack up and go home. I have been there on the inside. It makes it so much harder. There’s more to this than the initial fanfare of emails and internal bluff – it must be continuous. You will need to educate around governance, stake holder management, realistic ROI and timeframes, and a strategy on how social will support the overall business.
This is change management; you must win hearts and minds. Some will get on board immediately. Some will want to understand and try to make it work. Some will fight you all the way and not engage. Work with the first two groups. The third group will either come around or not. Doesn’t matter. Being a social organisation can cover every aspect of the business if you choose to go all in. However, the following teams are critical: Sales, Marketing, Sales Enablement, Learning & Development & HR. Give yourself room for success and failure. And Time.
Every organisation I talk to is client centric, yet I see a lot of inward facing content, or self-congratulatory content with little to no context of what it means to their clients or new clients. Build your client story into this. Elevate yourselves as true subject matter experts, thought leaders, by industry, role or service line. Build account based Intelligence into this. If you do not know what this is, you need to start learning fast, as this is the next iteration of mapping and targeting existing or new clients.
Content is still king. The original purpose of social networks, before ad-revenue and fake news, was to connect people and delight them with content. Why does content go viral? The algorithms see it getting lots of traction quickly, and so put it back into the networks again, again and again. As a business you need to understand what content will delight your consumers. I use the word ‘consumer’ with purpose – we consume content. I imagine you don’t consume a 100-page wordy thought leadership piece, unless you are doing full research. I bet you read BuzzFeed type listicles, listen to pod-casts, watch short videos, prefer infographics and so on.
Don’t just churn out your own content. Curate and share respected influencer content in the industries you are selling into, but with context. Measure, measure and measure. If content is not landing, try a different headline, turn it into a different form of content, or delete it. If content is getting traction – don’t just share it once. Keep putting it back into the social cauldron so it continues to simmer its way back to the top.
Different social channels for different audiences. Different social channels for different content delivery mechanisms. Do not make assumptions about where you think your decision makers and influencers reside. If you are not aware of Dark Social, I suggest you start doing your research.
I have left technology to the end, because it is the last part of the social puzzle that you should consider, and only when you have considered all of the above.
Buying Sales Navigator does not mean you are social selling.
Buying a social advocacy platform does not mean that all your employees will become brand ambassadors overnight.
If you do not have website analytics on your website, you need to fire whomever is responsible for this – they are costing you qualified leads.
Marketing automation tools have their place – just do not make it look automated.
You will need a social media management dashboard to support all of this.
Investing in an employee collaboration tool will not make your business social internally.
Social engagement tools are brilliant – if you engage with social.
Can you integrate all of this with CRM? Google “Microsoft Social Engagement” is an example of where all of this is going.
To sum up: People, Process, Technology. In that order.
The chances are that you are doing some aspects of everything that I have talked through. I know it is arduous work, management wants things to happen overnight and see instant ROI. You may get lucky and get one or two quick wins; however, this takes time and effort. But stick at it, and trust me, the rewards will absolutely come.
I have tried to capture this long form blog into an Infographic to help you visualise all we have discussed. I wanted to also demonstrate how you can share the same methods in a different format to suit different consumers or content.
One thing is certain, this will no doubt have to be changed again as this social evolution gathers momentum in the B2B space.
Digital Leadership Associates: We are a Social Media Agency. We do three things: Social Media Strategy, Social Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.